Thousands of people are bilked every year by criminals who enter the lives of their victims through their telephones. And while seniors are often the target of scammers, anyone can be taken for a ride. Here’s everything you need to know about phone scams — including some that take advantage of evolving technology like QR codes, and others that use coronavirus fears to their advantage — and how to avoid becoming a victim.
Lottery Phone Scams
When it comes to the lure of easy money, Lavelle offers a piece of advice that comes with virtually no exceptions. “If you receive a phone call about winning a lottery you never entered,” he says, “don’t believe it and hang up the phone. With this type of scam, a con artist will call the victim and say they won a large sum of money but have to pay a fee to facilitate the earnings. Once the scammer receives the wired money, they disappear. Many of these types of calls originate in Jamaica.” The FTC also puts lottery scams toward the top of its concerns and warns of scammers based in Canada — and reminds potential victims that the sale or purchase of cross-border lottery tickets by mail or phone is illegal.
Netflix Phishing Scams
So-called Netflix scams are most likely to come through email or text, but you could get a phone call as well. In this con, the criminal pretends to be from Netflix or another popular streaming service and asks you to update your payment or other private information to avoid a service interruption. In email form, the scam is often accompanied by a dangerous link the scammer wants you to click.
Enduring Scams That Refuse to Die
Some scams have been around for years or even decades, bilking innocent victims out of their money or identities. In some cases, tried-and-true phone scams are updated and reinvented. In other cases, the same old con keeps finding victims year after year.
Robocalls are nothing new. In fact, they’re so common that most people pay them little mind, which is part of what makes predatory robocalls so dangerous. “In today’s landscape, it is not uncommon to receive multiple robocalls a week on both your landline and your cellphone, even though you’ve registered your phone numbers with the Do Not Call Registry,” Lavelle says. “They’re offering everything from lower credit card rates to free vacations and medical alert devices. It’s not only annoying, but many of these calls come with a high probability of a scam.”
Caller ID Spoof
The caller ID spoof manipulates caller ID software to add an extra layer of legitimacy to the con. The scammer makes the caller ID display your bank’s actual name or phone number on your phone, which lulls victims into a false sense of security before the call is even answered.
Phishing scams have long been identified as frauds that try to gain the victim’s trust by presenting some of the victim’s personal information. If the scammer has the last four digits of my Social Security Number and my ZIP code, the victim assumes, the caller must truly be from the bank or the phone company. Spear phishing expands on the old phishing scam by offering some information in an effort to get the customer to surrender the rest. For example, the “bank” might call under the guise of trying to sort out irregular spending patterns on your debit card. To gain your trust, the swindler will offer the last four digits of your SSN then ask you to provide the rest of the number “for security purposes.” Spear phishing often works in conjunction with the so-called caller ID spoof.
Source: Scammers are targeting your phone. Here’s what to watch for (msn.com)